Skip to main content

Drum Tuning Part 2

Lesson 6 from: Advanced Drum Production

Eyal Levi

Drum Tuning Part 2

Lesson 6 from: Advanced Drum Production

Eyal Levi

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

6. Drum Tuning Part 2


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


The Tone Pie and Process Overview


Getting the Lay of the Land and Q&A


Assemble Your Gear


Drum Tuning Part 1


Drum Tuning Part 2


Fine Tuning Tones Part 1


Fine Tuning Tones Part 2


General Guidelines of Tracking Drums


Tracking with Sean Reinert


Pop Quiz


Basics of Superior Drummer


EZDrummer vs Superior Drummer


Constructing a Metal Drum Kit Part 1


Constructing a Metal Drum Kit Part 2


Constructing a Rock Drum Kit


Grooves and Programming


General Q&A


Prepping Virtual Drums for the Mix


Superior Review with Q&A


Intro to Mixing and Drum Clean Up


Interview with John Douglass


Intro to Drum Editing


Manual Editing Approach


Editing with Beat Detective


Editing with Elastic Audio


Sample Layering




Gain Staging and Bussing


Mixing Essentials


Compression and Parallel Compression


Reverb and Automation


Mixing Tips and Tricks


Day 2

Day 3


Bonus: EZDrummer - Introduction


Bonus: EZDrummer - Intro to EZDrummer


Bonus: EZDrummer - EZDrummer Foundations


Bonus: EZDrummer - How a Drummer Plays


Bonus: EZDrummer - Part Writing Part 1


Bonus: EZDrummer - Part Writing Part 2


Bonus: EZDrummer - Part Writing Q&A


Bonus: EZDrummer - Intro to Grooves


Bonus: EZDrummer - Writing from Scratch


Bonus: EZDrummer - Intro to Fills


Bonus: EZDrummer - Writing Fills


Bonus: EZDrummer - Mixing in Your DAW


Bonus: EZDrummer - Bussing and EQ


Bonus: EZDrummer - Compression and Reverb


Bonus: EZDrummer - Conclusion with Q&A


Bonus Video: Editing


Bonus Video: Toms and Cymbals


Bonus Video: Snare Midi


Bonus Video: Kick Midi


Lesson Info

Drum Tuning Part 2

Don't talk about tom tuning now we'll go through that entire process for tom's yes, we will sit here all day and do this so bases that twelve inch yeah, that totally manit tuning takes a long time so probably talk about it for a while um think the main thing personally that I looked for when it tom starts to sound like crap is it is dented uh I I feel like in recording always look for the most obvious thing first it's not the most glamorous thing to do and it's not the most exciting thing to do but it's typically the solution is something I feel like nine or ten times eighty five percent of the time whatever it's going to be the the most obvious thing like toms are slipping it's probably dented it's probably done um there's some guidelines that you know if you want less ring being that the bottom had is your resident had that controls the ring tighten it a little uh do you want more ring loosen it a little it's ah is pretty logical stuff until you throw on the factor having to use your...

ears, we'll pitch and then that moon gel could be added it into that one for deadening the ring absolutely I'm a huge fan of moon gel, so I think, uh I think the toms airway more simple to tune than snares though um it's just a matter of getting them all to sound like they're working conjunction with each other. I was wondering if there are any questions about tom tuning because it's basically the same thing I mean it's it's a lot of the same sort of. So what about this? What about that? You know the answer is given a shot, right? See if it works well, you guys want to know what we typically use that all your hammer um it's not the same thing that sean typically uses but from what you told me it's the same thing basically the equivalent yeah, we usually use. Emperor clears on top. Marino emperor clears we usually use ambassador on the bottoms on tom's typically now I find that one thing that's a non standard solution and this might sound really, really dumb but one thing that we've noticed that sometimes can control the ring really wells to put a coded head on the bottom of your floor. Tom, if you have a floor tom that just rings into eternity so do that sometimes. But most of the time the combination that works is emperor on top ambassador on bottom or what he's saying which is the evan his version? Yes so I have general which is a single ply on the bottom and then the g two on the top which is a double play and so that's what you're exactly what you're saying emperors a double play ambassadors a single place so you want the bottom had to be thinner than the top head um and when he's saying put a coded on on floor tom floor toms or bigger drums bigger drums are inherently harder to tune there's more surface area there's mohr frequencies going on that's why I play eight ten twelve fourteen I don't mess with sixteen eighteen and play a twenty inch kick so I can really you know tame tame the kit because that you start getting into craziness andi I find that in the studio if you mike it right and it's uh you can coax the low end out of smaller drums and make them sound not necessarily like I'm playing twenty four inch kicks and have you know, eighteen twenty inch floor toms but you ca night I can get the low I don't miss the low end from not having those big and actually those coded heads that I was talking about our on eighteen inch tom's uh not on fourteen inch tom's like their own yeah the on ly time yeah, exactly. We have some floor toms at the studio that you hit them and they will ring forever and so it sounds amazing but it just airing so long that it's destructive to the recording so that's where we throw on the coded heads underneath what's up I think a mistake that a lot of drummers make, and certainly I did when when I was getting started is just trying to get a tone out of your tom's that they're not capable of particularly tuning them so low that the head's air practically worthless and you get no rebound and you're playing suffers because you're just trying to get the drum to do something that that that's not the drum that you need. So I actually watched the class not too long ago from rhonda net who's, a guy that makes snare drums on dh, he suggested I approach to tuning, which is like we said, you know, there's, no fixed rule, but it's kind of a different approach to where you two in the top head, too, the rebound that you want, so that the performance in terms of your stick performance is where you want, and then adjust the bottom head to modify the sound of the drum, and then from there, if you can't get the sound you're after, switch to a different drum. Well, I feel like if that feels good for you and ends up getting the results you want, then more power to you. The thing is, if you read five books on drum tuning, you're going to find five different approaches to drum tuning, uh, and if you hire five different drum tex you're gonna have five different ways to do it so I could sit here and give you guys like five different ways to go about it but you could easily just type it into google and the first five responses you're going to get are going to be five different ways two in a drum so another thing that on this note that came up scum people in the chat room using variation of your favorite phrase must be nice which is like well must be nice to be able to get this when you have five days you know in fifteen stared drums to experiment were right and that is nice but uh if you're doing a d I y recording you in theory have unlimited time and that's pretty nice too so you know you should I mean you should experiment right it's a great way to disarm it but but it's true I mean what you you know you have this much time as you want I have on ly noticed that the pressure gets higher as the album's get bigger and the time gets shorter not the other way around remember my band's first album took us a year to make uh nobody it takes a year to make an album anymore I mean a year not like a weekend here a weekend there I mean like working four days a week kind of thing uh yeah, you have unlimited time when when the stakes aren't that high so that is when you should get good that is when you should experiment so I know you will guys also for you're for the death stuff did a ton of pre pro because we're before the album twice there's a fine line there too because you could kill it absolutely like going back and going back and going back and sometimes it's good to kind of be in that in that crucible and have to get it because you might make decisions that you know you keep on doing things and undoing things and you just like end up six months later going gone it sounded much better like three months ago les what do we do? Oh, you know so it's it's it's a weird thing in itself there that sometimes decisions that have to be made happened fortuitously and, you know, having a deadline it can be a good thing you know, I think it's always a good thing to have ah deadline, but it comes down to trusting your own skills in your own ears is and knowing that you can get the job done if you can't get the job done than don't agree to it but uh they would say it must be nice to have five days and fifteen snares and you would say must be nice to just be sitting in your bedroom messing around with stuff and label breathing down my neck. Yeah, and must be nice to not have musicians of that caliber expecting you, teo, fulfill their expectations, dreams and also giant corporations expecting you, teo, make profitable albums like nice to not have to worry about that stuff. So by all means, experiment and have fun right now because the fun side of it goes away as, uh, alums get bigger and bigger, not completely, but it definitely gets diminished. Uh, the most fun I ever had a recording was at the beginning for sure. So have fun. So double edged sword. Yeah, you guys are actually in a good spot. Uh, because this is tedious. This's hard stop, man, this manual labor so I think we're gonna keep going. All right? Let's, talk about bass drums now I'll just say that, uh, we don't use bass drums very often. I know you do, but we don't. Uh, bass drum is always something that I feel the drummer has to earn the right to use in the studio just because it presents so many potential problems. Ah, the editing factor is on you. And do you really want to spend three weeks editing drums? Not really, so there has to be a damn good reason to use a kick drum and, uh with that said in my opinion, getting a good kick drum tone is more about the amount of dampening you use than anything else at least to me and uh I've also noticed that tuning it to where it sounds almost dead in the room sounds really good under the migra this's where I incorporate the guy he was talking about technique for me the bass drum it's about feel first and then it's the engineer's problem to get the low end because I literally have a foam piece that goes from the the front head to the batter head and it's when I put the hoop on I got it like, you know, put the coupon and then my my batter head is almost as tight as it can go so I'm getting that spring action in this situation it's you know, since we're not really doing a record and it's not like a lot of double bass endurance it's tuned a lot looser than I normally would play um so it's you know it's one of those things where the engineers I work with know howto get the low end and it's usually double miking triple miking using a sub you know vic is great, you know, having the inside migrant and then a fat outside or something like that on dh then maybe even a tent, you know what I mean? Um yeah, so that's that that's where I kind of yeah, you know, I guess I'm all over you got to take bits and pieces and find what works for you so funny enough that's that's it's more about the feel and then I let you guys for your aboutthe tone well, I think that the feel of how the kick drum is is the most important factor to because even when using the kick pad that's the number one complaint that drummer's always have is this feels wrong is not this the sample sounds terrible or anything is this feels wrong? I can't play properly on this and nine times out of ten you're going to replace the kick drum anyways so how it sounds is not that important, so I give you guys some guidelines just in case, but uh I feel like that's the least important part of making a metal record at least not if you're making a rock record not not exactly, but every every producer has their go to kick sample and they're probably going to use it and ninety to one hundred percent blend on a metal album so just do what makes the drummer happy and what isn't going teo give you a nightmare editing later on with that leg with the avalanche you mixed my kick with the sample we had but I mean on ly for the on the fight like five came out it was total total just for the click yeah, a little bit absolutely not yeah we, uh we kept we kept your natural kick and we also kept your natural kick dynamics in there like we we didn't really do too much teo flat and out or anything like that we kept it is intact as we could and we just felt that because there was a wall of guitars to cut through two and down to f we needed teo ad a little bit of that sample in there but I mean it's really quiet like that's almost entirely really kick so for those of you who are unaware, shawn and I made a record together called avalanche warms a few years ago that was basically my my, uh my version of having a record with real drums so the performance is a really theirs no sample other than one very quiet high and sampling the kick and it's an example of the fact that you can make her metal record with real drums. But the reason that people don't it's because they like the sound of samples and honestly, I like that I like the sound of kick samples to it's uh it's more of an artistic thing to and again editing it will be a nightmare one of the things that happens in d I y recordings that can't happen on pro recordings is three weeks of editing time four weeks of editing time and you cannot spend that long you have to get this done in a few hours per song so if the drummer is hosing you is a very big deal with the bass drums um you cannot take it lightly if you're in a situation where it's going to take multiple weeks to edit drums you're better off not dealing with that drummer because you're going to blow your deadline so that said anything about bass drums in there actually I was going to ask how often do you use kicks from isolation tents and how big of a difference do you think that they make? I think that well, the thing is the reason that I find that they do make a big difference is because you have a mike that's four feet away to some broad based no even say you put a year eighty seven in a figure eight pattern four feet away from the bass drum it then becomes a room mike without that tent there I've been using a ribbon for like that same purpose for picking up just like kind of the fatness and none of the attack and I'm I've never done it without a try it you have a very low room like if you do that try it to not try I would try just to know why the tents important but there's a physics behind it which is that low frequency waves take a longer distance to develop so you want to have a mike further away from the drum to pick up the full low end of the bass drum but when you get it for feet away three feet away, whatever you're picking up the rest of the kids so you have to build a tent and it's a really funny looking process for people who don't know you just put up a chair in a blanket you tape it to the drum take yeah bill, can you, um, explain the difference between a sub kicked mike and as opposed to a traditional mike and why you use both or one or the other? Sure um sub kick mike for those of you who don't know and uh we tried to get one here we couldn't get one it's kind of like it looks like a kick bad or looks like uninvited snare drum um it is designed toe on ly pick up the sub frequencies um and they also sounds really good on floor times, but for instance, when you micah bass drum it will often put the mike against the very close to the beater like that like the d six, which is, you know, very, very tight, low end and very, very controlled mids and punch and but that's not that big bhumi booty shake and low end it it's you're not going to get that from a d six one inch away from the beater so that's where you would add a sub kick and all you get is a thud when you when you put it up there and about this size and uh it's it's basically a speaker yes sir, I actually have one that I made that's cool and yeah it's it's actually really simple it because it is just a speaker working in reverse and so if you find a random speaker laying around, chop one end ofthe a mic cable and stripped the two wires out and hook those two wires to the two tabs on the speaker plug the mic cable in and it's a sub kicked mike I've never I've never actually a bead the home made ones versus the store bought once, but I can't imagine that there would be two different his oh you're picking up some frequencies, right? Yeah, I've never actually used one of the store bought ones I've just messed with the one that I built and it's definitely serves the purpose I don't know how it compares to it a properly made one or not but properly made one serves there if you want to try it and you have a spare speaker kicking around it it's pretty easy to to knock one out yeah, it's they're they're pretty simple to make, but they're super effective and like I said, they're really good on floor tom bottoms as well if you want to get a nabs absolutely huge low end on the floor tom let's talk about symbols I know it says tuning uh we'll keep it quick because you can't actually tuna symbol, but you can choose which symbols you're going to use and they all have different pitches and in general, I think for recording you want to use thinner symbols? Uh, thicker symbols definitely start sounding really gandhi and while they do work live it's a completely different beast, then ah, in the studio I don't know what you have you ever had a situation other than high hat's where thicker symbols really work well on the studio? No, not really, I mean right reid symbols I used to and one is light and one is heavier and that's just to have that arranged there. But other than ride symbols you notice in the starting line, my stuff is just really thin and dark, you know has very quick attack to it and you're not hearing the clang you're hearing this, you know, and I think with have your symbols, you definitely get into that, you know, clang anything and the gong is hit on anything and yeah I mean live you could get away with it because a lot of times you don't you're not even over heading you know, depending upon the size the club or the application um and so you're using that latch natural loudness to kind of compensate for that but yeah and and live it's a lot more forgiving the studio you really under the microscope so um yeah and and you can tune a symbol because you khun dampen it and or have it ring freer so I mean you're not going to change the pitch but you can change the to a certain degree sustain um yeah and again I would pick a set of symbols that like you're tom's and your drum kit you want it to sound like it's from the same family you don't want too big of a difference and the sound's other than maybe you know, hide alot I will say though that just because it's the same kind of symbol doesn't mean it's going to sound the same so you gotta experiment just like we said with heads and everything you had to experiment with symbols are symbol locker is way more extensive than our snare collection and we are constantly changing out symbols so I'm going to show you guys something real quick about symbols and how you set them up the looseness of the tightness makes a huge difference this is perfect sean says his stuff up perfectly but I meet a lot of guys who have them like this and they have really touchy about this because drums airfield instrument but you do that you're going to hear all the vibration of the stand is going to move around is going to sound incredibly sushi so you want your symbols to be kind of how you had it before uh see, this is perfect you don't want your your symbols swishing around like crazy moving around like crazy you want to keep them to a nice war too choked either yeah through oh yeah, well that's what happens have you tied in them too much um or if you hit them too hard uh all right, so I think we've basically covered covered drums and how teo howto basically tune them before we move on tio actually miking them up uh, I will say that once again, I don't think you need to get too bogged down with the physics of all this or technical this or mathis or math that just know how to set it up know that you're going to experiment kind of know what you like and go for it and that's how you're going to get good at it? Um it doesn't really change whether you're making million dollar records or your d I y the only thing that changes is the gear and the stakes but a snare drum is a snare drum in that thomas a tongue it's not like big bands have different drums at work different ways it's all the same microphones a microphone as some fifty seven is an sm fifty seven so just learn this stuff and I would commit this process to ah memory and make the process part of how you work um so let's say that we have the drum set set up we like the way it sounds um do you want to just hit it real quick for me we'll see if we dig it still haven't dropped like crazy so this would be the point where I just say play for a second now sit here in the room and listen so play for a second I'll stay here in the room and listen so just for the sake of argument let's say that there's a weird ring on the snare okay sounds like he's gone yeah now if we like the pitch of the drum I think the pitch is good then we go to our good friend moon gel and we figure out and I like to start out big before I reduce like the dew the process of subtraction versus edition so since I have one in the top I'm going to put it right across from it actually which is where I put my finger to begin with that thing is a little more move the spot go on. Yeah, so cool, so I'd say maybe play a little bit more and let's see what it sounds like in conjunction with the rest of the kids. Awesome problem solved, so I I would also take this moment to say that you are playing at the intensity level that you will be recording at correct, a lot of drummers play way softer when we're checking tones, which they don't think they are, but they are and maybe demonstrate what it sounds like to play away softer comes right in as soon as you start yeah, you can't judge anything based on somebody, uh, wasn't around, so drummers play the way you're going to actually play on the recording so all right, we dig how this sounds oh, um, tenement, this is this is not through the gear. This is this what we did, how it sounds in the room, right? Yeah, actually, this is because it's going to sound different now through the chain? Yeah, absolutely. The first step is just be happy with where you're at with yourself in the room. Yeah, and of course, they sound different from where you're sitting versus from where I'm sitting. Yeah, there are a lot louder, probably yeah, it's, it's a totally different animal that's why I always it's great to do the play for a little bit then come in the control room and then you know it's a painting but but keep doing that because it's a completely different thing been sitting here it might sound great to you here but that's not necessarily what all the other mikes or pick or conversely in my sound terrible to you but great in the control room correct we've I have actually encountered that quite a bit where drummers will be like this really doesn't sound right and then will come the control room will be like this sounds incredible so go with what you know is an engineer um so like the way it sounds this kid is already might look at this like a cooking show we don't have time in michael on entire drama set but this would be the point where you mike it so uh you would put together an input list uh what an input list is is basically a list that tells you which microphone corresponds to a witch drum which goes toe which input on your interface or gets routed to a nick you like these louder than left off cues that we have and then into the interface uh this is where you plan this out it's really simple if you don't plan this out you're going to forget it now I have one written out in reality I use google docks or google drive that's really efficient because you do it on your ipad out in the live room and then it's already in your control room and it's not all archaic like writing things down and uh scribbling like a sixth grader like I do but just to give you guys a template those of you who by the class will get this input list blank from us which you can download um so I have this already completely written out uh basically going from the kick to the kick pad to snare topped the snare bottom before tom's the hats, the rides, the china and the rooms they're all on here and I'm just gonna walk you guys through what's going on right here um we've got a d six on the kick drum inside right there sixty six and it is going to a p I channel one and then is going to a lot of lift off you and then is going into pro tools and so right here on my input list I wrote drum mic preempt patch too and track and uh have it kicked the six ap I won lunch box one and then when I came to make the session in pro tools right here see kick corresponds to input one like on my input list is really, really simple this is just to keep yourself from forgetting and believe me when you start to get into lots of mike's and of extensive set up with tons of symbols you're going to forget what's what uh you forget if you put the high hat on channel sixteen or seventeen and then the overhead that's on the high hat side on channel eighteen or nineteen so in the interest of time I'm gonna to tell you guys what we did in the kid basically I wanted to mike every piece individually I don't have the time or the inputs to do that so I've decided what would be the most important pieces to mike here so we started with the kick d six put an s m fifty seven on the snare top and that's going to an a p I and the characteristics of an ap I like if you were to like read a description or just use your ears is that they're very punchy and they have great upper mids so therefore you want your toms I mean your snare to punch through everything and you want your kick to punch through everything so that's why I decided to put those on ap eyes and uh then I sent them to accuse so that I could give him a little bit more top end and into pro tools uh I put the toms through neave ten seventy three's need ten seventy three's are known for having a little bit more low mid action being be fear pre amps I mean use your ears but this is this is the stuff that um is a basic characteristic of the pre empt onto thompson sound big and uh big and warm so I chose the needs a p I we've got the snare on two and the kick on one so the nieves right here the ten, seventy three's there ah, warmer and have more of ah low mid range warmth to them so warm is that word I hate but that's if you were to read the description on this piece of gear that's what it would say that and just the best piece of gear for drums if I had only these, that would be amazing. So I put the toms through those cause tom's khun b finicky and I figure in order of priority would be to get the toms through your best gear possible because they will sound the worst if you have to replace them. Um kick is almost throw away it's not really, but if you have to go in order of priority in terms of what you realistically have in front of you, pick your best pre amps for your overheads and you're tom's because you're probably gonna put a sample in the snare and you're probably going to replace your kick so that let me ask you a question sir, do you always use the same chain for uh tall all times like is it a matter of you want to use the same pre for all the toms because we've tuned them to sound the same we want them to be the same so we're going to put them through the same he could not maybe the same setting per se but do you want the same signal path for something you're trying to keep kind of homogenous nine out of ten times yeah okay not nine out of ten times it's going to look like that I feel like same mikes and same approach the same direction same angle same everything cause that you keep the phase relationships the same you keep the tonal characteristics the same and like you said we're trying to keep it within a certain family maternal family so the I think the difference between pre amps is so huge like a p I sounds nothing like anethe right? So uh I I definitely would do that but I haven't done that every single time like something that I would do is sometimes we put for twenty ones on tom tops and then d sixes on tom bottoms but then on floor toms we'll put sub kicks on the bombs right? So you know that changes things considerably and uh we also go in order of priority tom bottoms aren't as important as tom top so if we only have certain pre amps available we will put the tom bottoms on other otherwise your delegate your gear kind of definitely cause look I only have x amount of inputs available so I'm thinking to myself obviously the ideal would be tohave all need pre amps and all the time yeah with you really just be like a day for tones in a place that we're comfortable with and a data to two record but in henry in reality for most most situations you need like a week a week to ten days and would love to have x amount of gear so uh that not always being possible I think to myself what's the first thing that can go in the mix kick drum what's the second thing that can go not snare all the way but it's probably gonna be really reinforced with sample what's the drum that I hate sampled tom's so and then what ruins everything if it sounds like garbage overheads so I kind of just yeah just delegated you get talking about this stuff and then you go forever so one thing that will skip for now and come back to would be the kick pad set up uh, which we were going to talk about next if we're into rough tones now so real quick I'm just going to say about all this stuff is don't get person on dh get the kit sounding awesome before before anything else all right record rough tones so basically what I'll need an a you already know what I need, but I'm gonna tell you guys what a good guideline to get out of a drummer for rough tones is basically have programme material specific tests if you're doing a record full of blast speeds, have the drummer play blast beats don't have them play funk beat you were going to, then record blast beats and breakdowns have him play sections of music that are actually part of the album you're about to record. If not, you're gonna get tones that have nothing to do with your album, and the reason I say this because drummers will do this, too, they will just play when in reality, is what the album sounds like to make sure that the rough tones section is relevant to the material number two get a wide variety of beats, so say that say that the most common beat on something is a breakdown beat, and the second most common is a blast. Pete haven't play breakdown into blast beat breakdown to blast beat make sure he throws in some fills and make sure you hit every single symbol. Once you do that, go from left to right on the symbols, and then that's what we'll do right now, so without further ado, I don't write, so in my head, I'm just going to kind of reference the track we're gonna record later today, and I'll throw some fills in, and then and then now for the symbols. Do you want it? Isolated hits, maybe. Just give, could you maybe just give me single hits of your drones? A swell, thanks, cool, thank you.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Day One Presentation.pdf
Day Three Presentation.pdf
Day Two Presentation.pdf
Johns QuicKeys Shortcuts.qkmx
Sample Input List.docx

Ratings and Reviews

El Bulbo Studio

This class will give you confidence when tracking drums. Eyal's interaction with the drummer will help you communicate better with the artist to get the best performance and tone. The added bonus on drum replacement is very valuable and will improve your mixes.

a Creativelive Student

My drum sound has improved by 150% and counting. I'm grateful that Eyal would share this information with us. Not every technique is for every situation, but they all work. It's up to you to have the vision and to use the right tools for the job. Thank you guys!!

Michael Nolasco

To the guy that said buyer beware: this is an advanced production class, it's not meant for beginners who are learning to mic up a kit. I'm a beginner, but i'm using superior drummer, so this class was perfect for me to learn how to process drums post recording. I refer to it constantly. The editing videos are also prime information.

Student Work